Saturday, December 13, 2003

Pacific Chai Refrigerator Cookies:Recipe


My friends and I discovered the Indian tea beverage Chai in college. As students of all things new and exotic, we made it from cooking freshly ground spices, black tea and milk with honey until it was strong, spicy, and creamy. We might have bought it at the store if it was available like the instant coffees and cocoas we hoarded in our rooms, but it wasn't. Now it's all over the place. Almost every espresso bar, coffee shop and cafe sells it in a "latte" version. Even supermarkets are selling instant chai under their private label brands, a sure sign Chai has gone beyond college dorms. There are even several Chai bath products for those who can't get enough just drinking it.

While I still make Chai from scratch, I confess I buy a powdered version so I can make a refreshing cold slushy drink by whipping it up in the blender with ice cubes and a splash of milk. But now that winter is upon us, I have begun drinking more hot Chai and it dawned on me that there ought to be a cookie to go with. You can make perfectly acceptable spice cookies by including the traditional Chai spices of cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper and ginger, but to get the full tea and creamy flavors, using instant Chai powder does the trick. The American Tasting Institute awarded Pacific Chai the 2002 Gold and Best of Show medals for the best tasting Chai in America. Here is their recipe for Chai cookies:

Pacific Chai Refrigerator Cookies

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (1/2 teaspoon is better)
1/2 cup room temperature unsalted butter
1/3 cup Pacific Chai powder
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 cup Pacific Chai powder for topping unbaked cookies

Instructions

In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat butter until it is light and fluffy. Add sugar and 1/3 cup Pacific Chai powder. Beat until blended. Add the egg and beat until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour mixture. Mix until just blended.

Shape the dough into a 10" log on waxed paper. Wrap up tightly. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or as long as overnight. (Note: the dough can be frozen at this point if you wrap it in a freezer bag.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease two cookie sheets. Cut the dough into 1/4 inch slices. Place 1 inch apart on the baking sheets Sprinkle with remaining 1/8 cup of Pacific Chai Powder. Bake until edges are browned, or for about 8-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Enjoy!